NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was controversy at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Staten Island.
Miss Staten Island was abruptly pulled from the parade, after revealing her sexual orientation, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Sunday.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
As Staten Islanders marched proudly in the borough’s annual parade, Miss Staten Island Madison L’Insalata, wearing her rainbow scarf and heart sticker, was restricted to the sidelines. Just hours after she came out publicly as bisexual, she said organizers banned her from marching.
“It’s really hurtful. Nobody likes to feel rejected from their community,” L’Insalata said.
Jim Smith, the director of Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageants, broke the news to L’Insalata late Saturday night. He said parade organizer Larry Cummings called him saying L’Insalata and another pageant queen who supported her were banned.
“I was like stunned by the whole thing. I wasn’t prepared. He just said we’re worried about her safety, like he’s doing us a favor,” Smith said.READ MORE: Gabby Petito Foundation Holds Fundraiser On Long Island
“I am proud of Staten Island and I am proud of the title that I have because I know that myself and all the other girls involved do a lot of really great things for our community. So it’s a shame that this really great community event, we ended up not being allowed to be a part of,” L’Insalata said.
Cummings has been harshly criticized for continuing to ban the Pride Center of Staten Island from participating in the parade. CBS2 tried to speak with Cummings by phone and at his home, but we were asked to leave.
L’Insalata, 23, went to the parade anyway. Her mother said it was hard to watch.
“It was hurtful,” her mother said.
“I knew that people would talk about it, and that’s all I wanted. Because the more people that know about it the more likely it is to change,” L’Insalata said.MORE NEWS: Police: Suspect In Killing Of New Rochelle Taxi Driver Taken Into Custody After Shootout In Brooklyn
L’Insalata said many community leaders and spectators applauded her decision to show her true colors at the parade. She’s hoping it sparks conversation and inclusion.